Starbucks Cheer Chain

At Starbucks people have been starting “cheer chains” where they pay extra money to pick up the coffee of the person behind them in the drive-thru. Some have gone 2 solid hours. The blogger is cynical, but some of the comments are from baristas that work at Starbucks. I want to believe.

20 thoughts on “Starbucks Cheer Chain

  1. So, the net effect is that Person A buys his own coffee, and whatever Person B, behind him in the lineup, ordered. One person buys someone else a coffee, and starting with Person B, people start paying not for their own coffee but for the next person’s coffee.

    I guess I don’t get it… there’s nothing really amazing happening other than people choosing to pay for someone else’s $5 drink rather than their own… “A fun way to celebrate”? Are people really that broken that they think this sounds FUN?

  2. It’s not about being charitable. Each link in the chain has a positive effect on someone’s life, albeit a small one. This works in two ways: firstly, it feels good to do something for someone else. Secondly, it feels good to have something done for you. Participants engage in both aspects of the positivity of the chain: their day is brightened by the act of the previous customer giving them someone, and in turn, they choose to work a positive action towards the life of the person behind them.

  3. But then the next person in line is, in turn, expected to pay for the purchase of the person behind them. A charitable act that confers an obligation to negate the very benefit of that act cannot be considered charitable. All they’ve done is shift the purchase over by one person, dozens or hundreds of times. How can this be considered a positive action? It is, at best, neutral, because there is no net difference than if transactions had been conducted in the standard fashion. A supposedly selfless act done for the purpose of making yourself feel good about your actions cannot be considered truly selfless, even less so when the recipient of the charitable act is expected to reciprocate by negating it.

    This phenomenon also provides a perverse incentive to end the “cheer chain”, the benefit being free merchandise. And it can’t be considered a form of “pay it forward” in the traditional sense, because PIF branched out by obligating each person to be charitable to multiple people in any form. This is a purely linear structure, occurring in one medium: paying for things at Starbucks.

  4. I heard about it a year ago (on K-LOVE) when a woman handed a coffee house (likely Starbucks) drive-thru clerk a fairly large sum of money to pay for as many people’s orders as possible, with the condition she hand them a small card explaining that it was an act of generosity sponsored by a member of a local church, and that they were encouraged 1) to attend that church and 2) to “pay it forward” as it were.

    There was even a web site devoted to it. I visited it at the time, but I can’t for the life of me locate it now.

  5. I really believe this actions make us better human beings. My wife finds flattering that sometimes, when we have to travel in different cars, I pay the highway’s tolls for her.

    People can try to analyze this from any perspective but basically **it feels good**.

  6. It may feel good but this is the most pathetic way of taking care of your fellow man during the holidays

    Let’s see, I can either buy a coffee for someone for the same amount I was going to pay anyways, or buy toys for orphans, food for the needy, etc. I’m going with the coffee, since that is so IN today.

    I’m still amazed people will get in line for a hot water poured through charcoal, the Starbucks special blend, but this is just sad.

  7. rmuser: Ideally, you shouldn’t carry on the chain just because you feel obligated to. I’d also contend that it doesn’t matter if its a totally selfless act. It does feel good to do something for others, so, technically, no positive action on behalf of another person could ever be considered selfless, because the “creditor” gains the benefit of warm fuzzies for having done something good for someone else. The point is that it still overall generates good feeling among human beings, and that makes these chains a good thing, regardless of any tangential effects like extra sales.

  8. I think this way of “paying it forward” is a very inspiring action. It’s a simple way to brighten some one else’s day! I’ve also heard of this happening at toll booths on the road. Sometimes a small gesture can make a big difference in someone else’s life — it’s the butterfly effect!

  9. oh – my – GOD! people are insane… yeah THAT is going to help the world become a better place, making a corporation richer that will outsource whatever it can to Chinese (China is the new India) lmao

    don’t actually try and do something that will benefit us all, like DEMANDING a better education for our children (and us all by the way), but pay the coffee of the person behind you – i can already see the benefits… oh. no. wait. i can NOT.


  10. Sorry, but that seems like a sad little way for people to feel good about themselves.
    Maybe they should leave the store and donate their latte money to a worthy cause.
    I’m sure that the people who pick the beans, for about the price of one of those lattes a day would laugh himself to death.

  11. This happened to me a year or so ago, not at a Starbucks, but at a Bojangle’s. Sure, it’s mostly a net-zero financial “giving”, but I do have to say that it made me feel good for the next few days.

  12. It’s not a way to get out of charitable donations to an orphanage or homeless shelters – it’s an nice thing to do .. period. It’s not really “helping your fellow man” necessarily. But if I was in a pissy mood (which happens from time to time) and I go get a needed cup of caffine and the person ahead of me pays for my coffee … that will definately make me more cheerful. I’m not obligated to do the same … though I may feel the desire to.

    Is this a way for Starbucks to make more money? Well .. not sure I can see how since all the people in line are going to pay for their drinks anyway … so they really make little extra profit above what they normally would.

    But honestly, if you don’t like it – don’t participate. I don’t go to Starbucks and their overinflated coffee prices, but I think it’s … nice … of people to pay for someone elses coffee. Doesn’t make anyone a better person, but it may make someone a HAPPIER person.

  13. Hmmm. I guess I have to take the cynical view. It would be more worthwhile to donate the amount paid for an overpriced cup of coffee to a more worthy cause. $5 can get 5 items off the dollar menu at McDonald’s for a hungry child. I guess it gives people a warm, fuzzy feeling but it just seems kind of silly.

  14. Anything we can do to be better human beings is worthwhile. The person you buy a cup of coffee for will certainly feel better. The side effects of that would be … well who know…

  15. It’s swee but personally I like the old cheer chain. Guy buys you a coffee, you mess around with him the backseat of his gremlin, everyone’s even.